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Installing XP on FAT32 partition -> missing NTLDR


98 Guy
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Please ignore for a moment why I'm trying to install XP on a FAT-32 partition.

What I have is a 160 gb drive that I've used manufacturer's software to partition as a 64 gb primary FAT-32 partition (using 4 kb cluster size) and the remainder of the drive (96 gb) also as FAT-32 (8kb cluster size).

The drive is SATA, the computer is a Lenovo R61i laptop, and the drive was set to compatability mode in the bios (so no SATA drivers are needed during XP install).

I've booted the computer with an XP CD (XP-pro, OEM "System-Builder" version, version 2002 with integrated SP2).

During XP installation, XP sees the drive, sees the 2 partitions, asks which one I want to install XP on, asks if I want to keep the existing file system (yes), and then performs the first phase of installation (a lot of file copying). It then performs a re-start, and that's when I get the message "missing NTLDR".

Some fixes for this include making sure that NTLDR and ntdetect.com are present in the root directory (they are).

Microsoft seems to think that the only way this can happen (installing XP on a FAT-32 drive) is when you're attempting to install XP over a pre-existing Win-9x install (which I'm not) so I can't see how a lot of their solutions would or could apply here.

About 2 years ago I did something similar - I installed XP on a large (250 or 320 gb SATA drive) that was formatted with a couple of FAT-32 partitions (again with 4 kb cluster size) and the installation went smoothly in that case.

Any idea what's going on here?

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How did you fdisked/formatted the drive?

Any of the utilities listed here? :unsure:

http://www.boot-land.net/forums/?showtopic=4539

jaclaz

No, I used On-track's Disc Manager, which has been customized for use by various hard-drive makers and branded as their own software for use only on their own hard drives.

In my case, I obtained Samsung's version here:

http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd...iskManager.html

Specifically, the bootable CD ISO image here:

http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd...CDROM_Drive.zip

During use, you specify

a) the OS you're planning to use (win-95, win-98se, ME, 2K/XP). For some reason they separate Win-98se and Win-me as separate options.

b) the type of file system (NTFS, or FAT16/32 as determined by your choice in A)

c) then you specify the size of each partition, and again you can choose FAT-16 or 32, and then the cluster size

When the operation is completed, the partitions and volumes have been created, and the volumes have been formatted, but they are completely blank (no bootable sector or system files present).

I have found that very few other hard-drive preparation tools (PowerQuest, etc) allows for custom cluster sizing when creating FAT32 volumes. Seagate and Western Digital also have their own versions of this DiskManager software.

Just FYI - using the above method I've been able to install win-98se on the drive in question (as installed in the laptop in question) as well as in other situations where I've installed win-98se on a 500 gb SATA hard drive prepared as a single fat-32 partition with 4kb cluster size.

I'm under the impression that Win-2K and XP are both capable of dealing with large FAT-32 volumes (larger than 32 or 64 gb) but they've been handicapped in that by design their own native drive preparation tools are prevented to create FAT-32 volumes larger than 32 gb.

So, now you know how I prepared the hard drive, do you have any ideas why XP is throwing up this error message upon the first restart after OS installation?

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I have the impression that one thing is "dealing" with large FAT32 volumes and another one is "booting" from them.

On such a big partition the NTLDR may have been somehow written in a part of the partition not reachable by the bootsector code, or the bootsector code may "go beserk" because of the size of the partiion in the LBA address in partition table.

What I would try:

1) re-format the FAT32 partition

2) boot from a floppy or CD and copy to it just:

NTLDR

NTDETECT.COM

BOOT.INI (you should have a BOOT.INI with at least two entries in order to see it when booting)

(in this order)

3) try booting from it

If you get to see the BOOT.INI choices, you can then re-try installing XP.

Another possible workaround would be to copy to the partition grldr and menu.lst from grub4dos:

http://grub4dos.jot.com/WikiHome/

http://grub4dos.jot.com/WikiHome/grub4dos-...-2008-05-14.zip?

AND install the grldr.mbr to the MBR.

Then you can try chainloading the NTLDR bypassing the bootsector.

grub4dos mbr has a "more sophisticated" filesystem access, and may succeed where standard bootsector code fails.

The problem is definitely in the bootsector->NTLDR part, the "NTLDR is missing" comes from bootsector, so thaat MBR->bootsector part should be OK.

Use hdhacker:

http://dimio.altervista.org/eng/

or a disk/hex editor to save the bootsector of that partition, compress it in a .zip file and attach it to your next post, I'll have a looj at it and see if I can find anything wrong with it.

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz
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Update:

Up until now, I've been preparing (partitioning) this drive by connecting it to a SATA port on another machine and running the Samsung version of On Track's disk manager software (via boot-CD).

Most recently, I've kept the drive in the destination machine (Levono R61i laptop) and ran the disk-manager software on it.

One of the first questions that the software asks is what OS you intend to use. It lists the options as:

Win-XP

Win-2K

Win-Me

Win-98se

My previous attempts were using the Win-ME choice, but this time I chose XP. It then wanted me to check (or not-check) a box if I was installing SP1 or higher (which I was, and I did).

I then went on and re-partitioned the drive as a 64gb primary (4-kb cluster size) and 96 gb secondary(8kb cluster size).

I then booted the XP-pro CD and began XP installation.

> Two questions:

>

> 1. Aren't you offered the option of re-formatting the drive with the same file system?

No. During XP installation, once you select the destination partition or volume, you have (basically) only 2 choices: Reformat the volume as NTFS, or keep the existing file system. No choice to re-format as FAT-32 (if such a choice ever existed, I don't see it probably because of XP's intentional limitation of 32gb for FAT-32 volumes).

> 2. Is the partition you are installing XP on marked as active?

Yes - in all previous attempts it was active. OnTrack's DM software does set the first volume as active.

So at this point, I've told DM to create a 64 gb Fat-32 partition, and that I intend to install XP on the target drive (instead of ME). The XP installation proceeds with about 10 minutes of solid file copying from the CD, and then upon first boot it actually does work (no missing NTLDR message).

So what's different here is:

a) The hard drive was connected to and OnTrack DM was run on the destination machine instead of a surrogate.

b) DM was told that XP was the target OS instead of ME.

I'm thinking that (b) was the item responsible for the success, but I wouldn't have thought that a FAT-32 volume needed any special preparation or setup to allow an NT-based OS like XP to boot from it.

PS:

After the machine booted the first time during XP install, and it began to ask questions as part of the rest of the install, I shut the system down and copied the XP-cd to a subdirectory on the hard drive. I then resumed XP installation and told it where it could find the install files. Problem is, I was CONSTANTLY being asked where the files were, and I was CONSTANTLY browsing to the same location. Why doesn't XP remember the alternate source location during install?

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Did you try just booting with your XP CD, delete all partitions and then create just your install partition? I'm not clear on why, but sometimes it offers FAT as an option, others it only offers NTFS. I did a clean install on a brand new SATA drive (for a customer) the other day (XP Home SP1) and it offered FAT.

Edited by JedMeister
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i havent used fat x filesystems for years on end, but i do remember one thing, that you need to have the first fat partition quite small, max 2-8gb, something like that, and then extended partition for the rest.

That 2Gig was a FAT16 limitation. In the mean time, 12 years ago, they came up with FAT32. :D That's what the thread is about.

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i havent used fat x filesystems for years on end, but i do remember one thing, that you need to have the first fat partition quite small, max 2-8gb, something like that, and then extended partition for the rest. Alas simply take a look here: http://www.allensmith.net/Storage/HDDlimit/FAT32.htm

Antique advise, may have been true at one time. I'm running 98SE on a first partition that's 32G and FAT32, so not true now.

My solution for the O.P. would be to drop the idea of giant FAT32 partitions, get a second drive and install XP on that as NTFS. FAT32 has a lot of limitations, about the only thing going for it is being able to be recognized by a bunch of different operating systems. If your boot sector or partition table gets nailed on the 98 drive with XP on board, you've just lost two operatings systems, not one and that happens with FAT systems. With XP on a second drive, it's an easy recovery to get XP back online. Hard drives are CHEAP right now. Buy a couple extra for backups.

Stan

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and then upon first boot it actually does work (no missing NTLDR message).

After the OP has solved his problem, he is advised by well intended people to delete all partitions or to buy a second hard drive. Maybe we could read more than the 1st and the last posts ? ;)

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and then upon first boot it actually does work (no missing NTLDR message).

After the OP has solved his problem, he is advised by well intended people to delete all partitions or to buy a second hard drive. Maybe we could read more than the 1st and the last posts ? ;)

Doh! Good point man! Sorry! :blushing:

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